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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone!

First post here. This subforum seemed like the most appropriate for my problem. You guys are my last hope figuring out this headache of a problem I have with my setup (see attached image). Also, another link to my earlier Reddit post where the video with sound is located which demonstrates my problem ( /r/pcmasterrace/comments/hlmcmr/hooked_up_pc_to_my_living_room_tv_but_weird_noise/ )

The setup
I have a GTX 970 which is connected to my Sony Bravia TV through HDMI. From the TV I use a 3.5 mm Jack to RCA split cable to deliver audio to my Mackie studio monitors.

The problem
I can say 100% that the noise you can hear on the video linked above is coil whine coming from the GPU, put my ear right up against it. The higher the framerate the worse the whine becomes and only goes away if nothing taxing is running (like browsing the web, clicking about Windows etc.).
Also, this only happens when using the speakers, no noise whatsoever when I use headphones.
The PS4 and the Switch does not have this problem, only my PC. Even when someone's watching TV and the HDMI from my PC is connected to the TV and I'm playing some game, the whine can be heard, does not matter if the active input on the TV is the PC one.

What I tried

  • Plugging everything into the same wall socket, the issue persisted
  • Tried using my monitor, HDMI in, 3.5mm audio jack out to RCA, the issue persisted
  • Tried lifting the ground on one of the speakers with an adapter, the issue went away, but only in the lifted speaker
Thoughts on possible solutions

  • New speakers? New TV? New cable?
  • Ground loop isolator? If it's a ground loop problem at all?
  • New GPU? Dying? Faulty coils?
I'm honestly out of logical ideas. Thank you for any help!
 

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We may need to restate the problem.
Coil whine is a mechanical noise and if associated with high-performance graphics use, it should still make the mechanical noise whether you use speakers or headphones.
Where are the headphones connected? The PC, or a headphone jack on the Mackie speakers?

The fact that it goes away when using headphones, and behavior changed when changing the ground on the speaker implies another source of noise over the speakers, which may be independent of coil whine.
Can you describe in more detail how you affected the ground on 1 speaker (what was the adapter?) and the state of the other speaker? Is that something that can be replicated for the other speaker?

When the HDMI is connected from the PC to the TV, and the TV's input is not the PC, and that other input is silent (not muted, but maybe paused), will playing a game on the PC generate sound on the Mackie speakers?
If yes, then you seem to have some radio noise generated by the video card picked up by the audio circuits of the TV or Mackie speakers. Is the PC case all metal, or see-through?

Hello everyone!
The problem
I can say 100% that the noise you can hear on the video linked above is coil whine coming from the GPU, put my ear right up against it.
Also, this only happens when using the speakers, no noise whatsoever when I use headphones.
The PS4 and the Switch does not have this problem, only my PC. Even when someone's watching TV and the HDMI from my PC is connected to the TV and I'm playing some game, the whine can be heard, does not matter if the active input on the TV is the PC one.

What I tried
  • Tried lifting the ground on one of the speakers with an adapter, the issue went away, but only in the lifted speaker
 

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Hello everyone!

First post here. This subforum seemed like the most appropriate for my problem. You guys are my last hope figuring out this headache of a problem I have with my setup (see attached image). Also, another link to my earlier Reddit post where the video with sound is located which demonstrates my problem ( /r/pcmasterrace/comments/hlmcmr/hooked_up_pc_to_my_living_room_tv_but_weird_noise/ )

The setup
I have a GTX 970 which is connected to my Sony Bravia TV through HDMI. From the TV I use a 3.5 mm Jack to RCA split cable to deliver audio to my Mackie studio monitors.

The problem
I can say 100% that the noise you can hear on the video linked above is coil whine coming from the GPU, put my ear right up against it. The higher the framerate the worse the whine becomes and only goes away if nothing taxing is running (like browsing the web, clicking about Windows etc.).
Also, this only happens when using the speakers, no noise whatsoever when I use headphones.
The PS4 and the Switch does not have this problem, only my PC. Even when someone's watching TV and the HDMI from my PC is connected to the TV and I'm playing some game, the whine can be heard, does not matter if the active input on the TV is the PC one.

What I tried

  • Plugging everything into the same wall socket, the issue persisted
  • Tried using my monitor, HDMI in, 3.5mm audio jack out to RCA, the issue persisted
  • Tried lifting the ground on one of the speakers with an adapter, the issue went away, but only in the lifted speaker
Thoughts on possible solutions

  • New speakers? New TV? New cable?
  • Ground loop isolator? If it's a ground loop problem at all?
  • New GPU? Dying? Faulty coils?
I'm honestly out of logical ideas. Thank you for any help!
Are your speakers active or something? If lifting the ground solves it on each speaker why not just do that for each speaker and all it good? This can be a difficult problem to solve so I'd take whatever solutions you have that are working.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I'm sorry, I would have sworn that what I'm hearing here is coil whine, my audio experience is very limited.



We may need to restate the problem. Coil whine is a mechanical noise and if associated with high-performance graphics use, it should still make the mechanical noise whether you use speakers or headphones.
Where are the headphones connected? The PC, or a headphone jack on the Mackie speakers?
When I use headphones in front of the TV I connect them to the headphone out on the side of the TV, the same output I connect the Jack to RCA cable which then goes into my speakers. My speakers don't have any outputs.


The fact that it goes away when using headphones, and behavior changed when changing the ground on the speaker implies another source of noise over the speakers, which may be independent of coil whine.
Can you describe in more detail how you affected the ground on 1 speaker (what was the adapter?) and the state of the other speaker? Is that something that can be replicated for the other speaker?
I lifted the ground loop with adapters (see attached image) on both speakers successfully eliminating the aforementioned noise. This is only a temporary solution sadly, since as far as I know, lifting the ground is a very bad idea.




When the HDMI is connected from the PC to the TV, and the TV's input is not the PC, and that other input is silent (not muted, but maybe paused), will playing a game on the PC generate sound on the Mackie speakers?
If yes, then you seem to have some radio noise generated by the video card picked up by the audio circuits of the TV or Mackie speakers. Is the PC case all metal, or see-through?
Yes, it definitely will make noise. My SO was playing some game on the PS4 while my PC was still hooked up to the TV with the HDMI cable, I started a game and the noise instantly started.
I tried eliminating the TV as the culprit by connecting the whole setup to my HDMI capable monitor which has 3.5mm jack audio out. This noise also comes through the monitor. So it must be something with the speakers.
Also, the PC case is all metal, except the front panel which is full plastic.

Hesitated on buying an AV receiver and using the optical out on the TV and connecting the speakers to the receiver, but it seems like overkill for a problem like this. I'd never use a full-fledged AV receiver's functions. Maybe going some kind of cheap audio kit route? I'd rather not throw away my trusty Mackies though.

Thanks for your help!


Are your speakers active or something? If lifting the ground solves it on each speaker why not just do that for each speaker and all it good? This can be a difficult problem to solve so I'd take whatever solutions you have that are working.
Yes, these are active studio monitors each plugged in to separate wall sockets. As far as I know lifting the ground permanently is a very bad idea, for safety reasons, that's why I haven't done it yet. Was I misinformed?
 

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Thanks for clarifying the headphone connection and grounding workaround.

For the Mackies, checking on a possible ground loop issue:
if you disconnect wither one from the 3.5mm to RCA stereo splitter, is there still a whine?
Is it possible to plug the 2 monitors into the same outlet/circuit? If so, does it still whine?

After that, it's looking like the Mackies are picking up RF signals from the video card. Some other questions to help narrow that down as a possibility or to eliminate it:
When you're playing a game on the PC and your SO is playing the PS4 on the TV, where is the sound of the PC and PS4 being directed? It wasn't explicitly stated before.
Are the Mackies still connected to the headphone jack of the TV? If you're playing a game at that point, how would you get sound?
Can you direct the PS4 sound to be played on the TVs speakers? If so, do the TV speakers whine?
If the Mackies are connected to the headphone jack of the TV while your SO plays PS4, does the noise stop if you disconnect the HDMI from the PC?
If the TV speakers whined before, do they stop if the PC's HDMI cable is removed?

Can you get sound from the PC another way, such as a headphone jack on an I/O header or sound card?
If so, do headphones play fine? If used as an input to the Mackies, do they whine?

When I use headphones in front of the TV I connect them to the headphone out on the side of the TV, the same output I connect the Jack to RCA cable which then goes into my speakers. My speakers don't have any outputs.
I lifted the ground loop with adapters (see attached image) on both speakers successfully eliminating the aforementioned noise. This is only a temporary solution sadly, since as far as I know, lifting the ground is a very bad idea.

Yes, these are active studio monitors each plugged in to separate wall sockets. As far as I know lifting the ground permanently is a very bad idea, for safety reasons, that's why I haven't done it yet. Was I misinformed?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
For the Mackies, checking on a possible ground loop issue:
if you disconnect wither one from the 3.5mm to RCA stereo splitter, is there still a whine?
Yes.

Is it possible to plug the 2 monitors into the same outlet/circuit? If so, does it still whine?
It's possible, just did it, the noise still remains.

When you're playing a game on the PC and your SO is playing the PS4 on the TV, where is the sound of the PC and PS4 being directed?
I can set it up so Windows uses the GPU's HDMI to send audio to the TV or I can use my Scarlett 2i2 to play games at my desk on headphones. Either way, if the HDMI is physically connected to the TV and I start up any GPU intensive task (games mostly) the noise starts. The PS4 is also connected to the TV by HDMI and uses the same speakers.
It does not matter how the TV is being used, if the HDMI cable from the PC is connected to the TV and the speakers are turned on while something GPU intensive is running on the PC, the noise will be there.

Are the Mackies still connected to the headphone jack of the TV? If you're playing a game at that point, how would you get sound?
They are always hooked up to the headphone jack of the TV. If I'm playing a PC game on the TV, I would use the speakers. If I'm playing on my monitors at my desk I would use my Scarlett 2i2 with my headphones.
Valuable info: in my last apartment the setup was a bit different without any noise issue. Instead of the headphone jack being connected directly to the speakers, it was connected to my external DAC's line inputs and from the DAC's line outputs it went to the speakers. I guess there was no noise, because the DAC somehow cut it out?

Can you direct the PS4 sound to be played on the TVs speakers? If so, do the TV speakers whine?
The built-in TV speakers do not whine, zero noise.

If the Mackies are connected to the headphone jack of the TV while your SO plays PS4, does the noise stop if you disconnect the HDMI from the PC?
Yes, the noise instantly goes away.

If the TV speakers whined before, do they stop if the PC's HDMI cable is removed?
The built-in TV speakers never had this problem, only my studio monitors.

Can you get sound from the PC another way, such as a headphone jack on an I/O header or sound card?
I can and I did. I hooked up my Scarlett 2i2 line outputs to my studio monitor's XLR inputs and all's well as long as I disconnect the RCA cable that is coming from the headphone jack connected to the TV. If the audio signal has anything to do with HDMI coming from my PC the noise instantly comes back.
If so, do headphones play fine? If used as an input to the Mackies, do they whine?
Headphones are fine, the Mackies are fine as long as they don't go anywhere near the HDMI audio signal.


Thank you. Your help is greatly appreciated!


Thanks for clarifying the headphone connection and grounding workaround.

For the Mackies, checking on a possible ground loop issue:
if you disconnect wither one from the 3.5mm to RCA stereo splitter, is there still a whine?
Is it possible to plug the 2 monitors into the same outlet/circuit? If so, does it still whine?

After that, it's looking like the Mackies are picking up RF signals from the video card. Some other questions to help narrow that down as a possibility or to eliminate it:
When you're playing a game on the PC and your SO is playing the PS4 on the TV, where is the sound of the PC and PS4 being directed? It wasn't explicitly stated before.
Are the Mackies still connected to the headphone jack of the TV? If you're playing a game at that point, how would you get sound?
Can you direct the PS4 sound to be played on the TVs speakers? If so, do the TV speakers whine?
If the Mackies are connected to the headphone jack of the TV while your SO plays PS4, does the noise stop if you disconnect the HDMI from the PC?
If the TV speakers whined before, do they stop if the PC's HDMI cable is removed?

Can you get sound from the PC another way, such as a headphone jack on an I/O header or sound card?
If so, do headphones play fine? If used as an input to the Mackies, do they whine?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Did some testing to check if its interference or not. Pulled the HDMI out of the GPU and tried simply touching things with it on the PC. When I touch the motherboard backplate around the optical out and HDMI outputs the same kind of could be heard through the speakers. This whining noise can also be heard coming directly from the GPU.

Thanks for clarifying the headphone connection and grounding workaround.

For the Mackies, checking on a possible ground loop issue:
if you disconnect wither one from the 3.5mm to RCA stereo splitter, is there still a whine?
Is it possible to plug the 2 monitors into the same outlet/circuit? If so, does it still whine?

After that, it's looking like the Mackies are picking up RF signals from the video card. Some other questions to help narrow that down as a possibility or to eliminate it:
When you're playing a game on the PC and your SO is playing the PS4 on the TV, where is the sound of the PC and PS4 being directed? It wasn't explicitly stated before.
Are the Mackies still connected to the headphone jack of the TV? If you're playing a game at that point, how would you get sound?
Can you direct the PS4 sound to be played on the TVs speakers? If so, do the TV speakers whine?
If the Mackies are connected to the headphone jack of the TV while your SO plays PS4, does the noise stop if you disconnect the HDMI from the PC?
If the TV speakers whined before, do they stop if the PC's HDMI cable is removed?

Can you get sound from the PC another way, such as a headphone jack on an I/O header or sound card?
If so, do headphones play fine? If used as an input to the Mackies, do they whine?
 

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You went the right route, as it definitely seems that the HDMI cable is carrying the whining signal and it somehow gets passed to the Mackies. The questions is how/why?

You'd have to at least partially disassemble the PC to check the next part, but does the backplate have any connection to PC ground? Assuming it's a custom build, does the motherboard manual describe how to safely establish ground?
My memory is rusty on this, but typically motherboards have some standoff post holes that are used for grounding to the PSU. The PSU cable connector has several grounds as it connects to the MB, but IIRC it helps to ground at a standoff as well.
I google searched 'pc motherboard grounding'. I'll leave it to you to scour the results.

Separately, if you still have the external DAC, can you see if it can still eliminate the whine?

Valuable info: in my last apartment the setup was a bit different without any noise issue. Instead of the headphone jack being connected directly to the speakers, it was connected to my external DAC's line inputs and from the DAC's line outputs it went to the speakers. I guess there was no noise, because the DAC somehow cut it out?
When I touch the motherboard backplate around the optical out and HDMI outputs the same kind of could be heard through the speakers. This whining noise can also be heard coming directly from the GPU.
 

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How do you watch live TV? Cable, cablebox, sat., antenna?
 

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I forgot to ask this explicitly, but when you hear the noise directly from the GPU, is it less loud than what comes over the speakers, or very loud?
Did it make this noise in the previous apartment, or was it possibly missed because it was relatively quiet compared to what comes over the speakers?

When I touch the motherboard backplate around the optical out and HDMI outputs the same kind of could be heard through the speakers. This whining noise can also be heard coming directly from the GPU.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
You went the right route, as it definitely seems that the HDMI cable is carrying the whining signal and it somehow gets passed to the Mackies. The questions is how/why?

You'd have to at least partially disassemble the PC to check the next part, but does the backplate have any connection to PC ground? Assuming it's a custom build, does the motherboard manual describe how to safely establish ground?
My memory is rusty on this, but typically motherboards have some standoff post holes that are used for grounding to the PSU. The PSU cable connector has several grounds as it connects to the MB, but IIRC it helps to ground at a standoff as well.
I google searched 'pc motherboard grounding'. I'll leave it to you to scour the results.

Separately, if you still have the external DAC, can you see if it can still eliminate the whine?
I guess that my new PC case purchase was just in time then. All grounding seems to be in order according to what you wrote and the additional info I read about MB grounding on Google. Backplate is properly connected, standoffs are there and proper. PSU is screwed on nicely.





philpoe said:
I forgot to ask this explicitly, but when you hear the noise directly from the GPU, is it less loud than what comes over the speakers, or very loud?
Did it make this noise in the previous apartment, or was it possibly missed because it was relatively quiet compared to what comes over the speakers?
It is somewhat audible, mostly at very high framerates really, like when its in the thousands, main menus in games and the like. The speakers amplify the whining tenfold or so, that's when it becomes unbearable.
It did not make noise in my previous apartment and that's because my PC wasn't hooked up this way to my TV. It was like this: PC Firewire > DAC > Jack - XLR > Speakers. Basically the audio never touched the HDMI cable, only video was going through there.

I could route it the same way here as I did in my previous place, but it's hell of a invonvenient to say the least, since the PS4 and the Switch both send the audio through HDMI to the TV and then audio travels through Jack RCA to the speakers. I'd need to unplug replug turn off/on stuff every time I'd want to game on my TV.






How do you watch live TV? Cable, cablebox, sat., antenna?
I don't. :grin: Haven't touched live TV in over a decade.
 

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It was looking like the speakers before, but apparently it's the HDMI path.
It appears that when you use it, it picks up audible signal from the video card, and it carries over all the way through the audio chain until it reaches the speakers, then is amplified.
You may want to open a support ticket with the video card company, but you said you hear it when you touch the header area when the cable is pulled.
If you can clarify, that's when touching the HDMI cable to the headers, while disconnected from the PC, but connected to the TV, you hear the sound coming from the speakers, which are connected to the TV. Right?


It did not make noise in my previous apartment and that's because my PC wasn't hooked up this way to my TV. It was like this: PC Firewire > DAC > Jack - XLR > Speakers. Basically the audio never touched the HDMI cable, only video was going through there.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
It was looking like the speakers before, but apparently it's the HDMI path.
It appears that when you use it, it picks up audible signal from the video card, and it carries over all the way through the audio chain until it reaches the speakers, then is amplified.
You may want to open a support ticket with the video card company, but you said you hear it when you touch the header area when the cable is pulled.
If you can clarify, that's when touching the HDMI cable to the headers, while disconnected from the PC, but connected to the TV, you hear the sound coming from the speakers, which are connected to the TV. Right?
Well, this GPU is way out of warranty period and next-gen is upon us, so I might just wait until I'll buy a new GPU I guess. But maybe they might know something we don't.
The strange whining noise can be hard just be touching the other end of the HDMI cable to the IO shield at the back of the PC while the other end is connected to the TV. Exactly as you described.
 

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I have the same problem. Here's a previous post describing it, some things I tried, and a workaround for my particular use case. In my testing, it seemed to be related to power consumption or clock speed.

One thing I found that does reduce coil whine a lot is to limit the GPUs power draw in its software. As a test, I limited power draw on my card to 50%, and it reduced coil whine by a lot. While it would obviously reduce performance in gaming and other maximum use cases, in this sort of video processing use case, I found it was still plenty powerful. The difference was with power not limited, it seemed to quickly ramp up, get a task done, then ramp back down, repeatedly, which contributed to those coil whine spikes. At 50% power, it wouldn't ramp up and down as hard, while still easily completing the task, so coil whine was reduced a lot.

I still have a small amount of coil while that gets into the audio through the HDMI output of the PC. I haven't tried a cheater plug yet, only for safety reasons, but that may turn out to be the only way to eliminate that. I tried running a wire from one of the power supply screws to the Signal Gnd on my AVR, but it didn't seem to help. I'm not 100% sure my connection to the chassis was good with that screw, so it's probably worth my investigating further, or maybe I should just bite the bullet and use a cheater plug.
 

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This is something to watch - Note that when the cable is not connected to the video card, but connected to the TV, if you touch the header, an audible analog signal travels down the cable, to the TV (or PC monitor) and makes it to the analog stereo output to play on the Mackies. Is that the video card or the TV? Is it the cable?
BTW, if not done yet, try replacing the HDMI cable or swapping with one from the game consoles which doesn't exhibit this problem, and verify if the problem persists. Sometimes symptoms like these can be caused by a bad cable.

Is the TV plugged into the same socket/ground as the PC? Can it be, to test that it's not a grounding issue between the TV and PC? Preferably with the Mackies as well. At this point I don't expect much, but it's an easy thing to check/eliminate as a variable.
Is there a store that you can get an open-box video card, or one with a decent return window?
Another thing to test is whether or not another pair of powered speakers/monitors has the same problem.

Are you using balanced or unbalanced inputs to the Mackies? If there are both, can you try to use the other one than you're using now?

Well, this GPU is way out of warranty period and next-gen is upon us, so I might just wait until I'll buy a new GPU I guess. But maybe they might know something we don't.
The strange whining noise can be hard just be touching the other end of the HDMI cable to the IO shield at the back of the PC while the other end is connected to the TV. Exactly as you described.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I have the same problem. Here's a previous post describing it, some things I tried, and a workaround for my particular use case. In my testing, it seemed to be related to power consumption or clock speed.
Thank you! I might just try this one, maybe it alleviates some of the problem.


This is something to watch - Note that when the cable is not connected to the video card, but connected to the TV, if you touch the header, an audible analog signal travels down the cable, to the TV (or PC monitor) and makes it to the analog stereo output to play on the Mackies. Is that the video card or the TV? Is it the cable?
BTW, if not done yet, try replacing the HDMI cable or swapping with one from the game consoles which doesn't exhibit this problem, and verify if the problem persists. Sometimes symptoms like these can be caused by a bad cable.

Is the TV plugged into the same socket/ground as the PC? Can it be, to test that it's not a grounding issue between the TV and PC? Preferably with the Mackies as well. At this point I don't expect much, but it's an easy thing to check/eliminate as a variable.
Is there a store that you can get an open-box video card, or one with a decent return window?
Another thing to test is whether or not another pair of powered speakers/monitors has the same problem.

Are you using balanced or unbalanced inputs to the Mackies? If there are both, can you try to use the other one than you're using now?
Is that the video card or the TV? Is it the cable?
This what I'd ask too. I tried swapping HDMI cables, thought maybe the current one was low quality, did not solve my problem.

Is the TV plugged into the same socket/ground as the PC? Can it be, to test that it's not a grounding issue between the TV and PC?
This was one of the first things I tried, about a month ago or so, because I thought my problem was related to some kind of grounding issue. It did not change a thing unfortunately.

Is there a store that you can get an open-box video card, or one with a decent return window?
I could use the 14-day return policy that every EU country needs to have on most of the things you order online. But I might just replace the GPU anyway soon when next-gen comes anyway.

Another thing to test is whether or not another pair of powered speakers/monitors has the same problem
Yes, this one I will try next time my friend comes over, I'll ask him to bring his pair of speakers.

Thanks for all the help philpoe, but honestly, I'm tired and I've mostly given up on this.
I will continue to use my monitor as my display or just buy a bigger one, hell, might just buy a big second TV and be done with it. Maybe a local audio specialist could solve my problem easily if they would have a service like home audio troubleshooting or something.
 

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I get it, for sure. At least no one can say you didn't try to figure it out!
I'm tired and I've mostly given up on this.
I will continue to use my monitor as my display or just buy a bigger one, hell, might just buy a big second TV and be done with it. Maybe a local audio specialist could solve my problem easily if they would have a service like home audio troubleshooting or something.
 

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I have a Hum X coming in tomorrow. Will report back here with the results.
 

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Last I looked into it, my understanding was Hum-X is not UL (nor CSA) rated so your safety is in question just like when you use a 3-prong to 2-prong "cheater" for the same purpose. They may insist you are safe, assuming their product does not fail, but a third party testing organization has not.

Aron7awol, please look at the product and packaging carefully and let us know if anything has changed.
 
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